Public Statement on the 10th Anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

September 13, 2017 | By admin | Filed in: CanadaIndigenous Rights.

Canada needs a legislative framework to fulfill the promise of
this vital human rights instrument

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
Peoples provides a crucial framework to achieve reconciliation.
Such a human rights-based approach is essential to address the
racism and discrimination that has caused such profound harm to
Indigenous peoples in Canada and around the world. Violations
include uprooting Indigenous peoples from their territories and
resources, failure to honour Treaties, tearing Indigenous
children from their families, and making Indigenous women,
girls and two- spirited people the targets of unimaginable

The adoption of the UN Declaration ten years ago today – on
September 13, 2007 – was a crucial victory in the evolution of
international human rights law. This historic achievement was
possible because Indigenous peoples persisted for more than two
decades in advancing a strong and powerful vision of
self-determination, decolonization and non-discrimination.

The adoption of the Declaration was also made possible because,
by the end of this process, influential states including Canada
had finally come to accept the necessity and urgency of a new
relationship with Indigenous peoples.

The UN General Assembly has unanimously reaffirmed the
Declaration on three separate occasions, calling for full
implementation at national and international levels.

Fulfilling this commitment requires meaningful and lasting
changes to eliminate discriminatory laws, policies and
practices and to ensure Indigenous peoples make their own
decisions about their lives and futures.

Yet, a decade after the adoption of the Declaration, Canada
still lacks concrete and effective mechanisms to uphold its
provisions. This is despite many positive statements from the
current government committing to fully implement the

Last month, the United Nations’ top anti-racism body, the UN
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, strongly
supported Indigenous peoples in urging Canada to adopt a
legislative framework and national action plan to implement the
UN Declaration.

A private member’s bill expected to come before the House of
Commons this fall for second reading – Bill C-262 introduced by
MP Romeo Saganash – contains elements of such a framework. This
includes: repudiation of colonialism and doctrines of
superiority; affirmation that the standards set out in the UN
Declaration have application in Canadian law; and review and
reform of federal legislation to ensure consistency with the
minimum standards set out in the UN Declaration. In addition,
the Bill requires that a national action plan be developed in
partnership with Indigenous peoples.

By approaching implementation of the Declaration through a
legislative framework, there is greater assurance that crucial
progress made will not be undone by a future government. Our
organizations and Nations call on the federal government to
embrace and build on the key elements of implementation already
set out in Bill C-262.

We appreciate that full implementation of the Declaration
requires long-term commitment and collaboration. As the Truth
and Reconciliation Commission repeatedly reminded us,
“reconciliation is going to take hard work.”

This is the time to act. Public responses to the TRC’s Calls to
Action demonstrate a profound desire among Canadians to build a
just relationship between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous
Canadians. As the TRC itself stated, the Declaration provides
the framework for doing so. However, putting this framework
into place requires more than fine words. It requires concrete,
effective action.

The Coalition for the Human Rights of Indigenous

Statement endorsed by:

Amnesty International Canada; Amnistie internationale Canada
francophone; Assembly of First Nations; Assemblée des
Premières Nations Québec-Labrador and Assembly of First
Nations Quebec-Labrador; British Columbia Assembly of First
Nations; Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers);
Confederacy of Treaty 6; First Nations Summit; Grand Council of
the Crees (Eeyou Istchee); Indigenous Bar Association;
Indigenous World Association; KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical
Justice Initiatives; Métis Nation; MiningWatch Canada; Native
Women’s Association of Canada; Nunavut Tunngavik; Oxfam Canada;
Oxfam-Québec; Quebec Native Women/Femmes Autochtones du
Québec; Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs

Please also take action here:

Canada: Keep your promise to Indigenous peoples

Send a message to Canada’s Minister of Justice Jody


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